A Visit from the Designer! -Usman Haque- 

Usman Haque is an architect specialising in responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and choreographed performances. His skills include the design of both physical spaces and the software and systems that bring them to life. He has been an invited researcher at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, Italy, artist-in-residence at the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences, Japan and has also worked in USA, UK and Malaysia. As well as directing the work of Haque Design + Research he has also taught in the Interactive Architecture Workshop at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. He is a recipient of a Wellcome Trust Sciart Award, a grant from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology, the Swiss Creation Prize, Belluard Bollwerk International, the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence prize and the Grand Prize Asia Digital Art Award.

What is your name?
Usman Haque, Haque Design + Research

which country do you wish to represent?
Planet Earth

Please tell us what@you had in mind when creating this design?
The t-shirt is printed with rubber foam ink: the print consists of a matrix of hexagonal pixels. You can colour them in with a BLACK felt tip permanent ink pen. In this way you can construct your own design. If you use RED or BLUE ink pens on these pixels you will create different effects. Because the t-shirt fabric colour is black it doesn't matter if you go out of the lines or if your pen is too fat: it won't show up. As long as you colour in a whole pixel it will disappear against its background, and will look neat and tidy. The rubber foam print is great for this because your pen ink will really soak in.

I have also made a web interface <http://www.haque.co.uk/tshirt> where you can prototype your design before committing it to your t-shirt. Click the pixels and draw what you like. Be rude. Be political. Be romantic. Be psychedelic. Be yourself.

If you are stuck for ideas you will find designs that other people have made; on the other hand if you like your design and would like other people to see it (and maybe use it too) then you can add it to the gallery. In this way people can start sharing their designs.

The tag is also configurable by the wearer. You can fill in the blank segments on the tag with a black pen to complete the phrase "this t-shirt designed by: --------". Instead of putting the tag at the neck I have put it on the inside right at the bottom; I hate it when t-shirts have tags at the neck because they itch so much that finally I have to rip them off; and of course when I do that I rip the whole t-shirt by accident!

Remember, some permanent pens have ink that is less permanent than others, and you might find that your pixels start appearing again after a few runs through the laundry. Let's call this a "feature" not a "bug": you may discover that you have unlimited rewrites!

What sort of places or situations will best fit your t-shirt design, do you think?
The t-shirt should fit any kind of situation really, because it depends what you draw on its surface. You can make it casual, formal, hip, dry, matter-of-fact, romantic, political, philosophical, nonsensical, whatever...

The t-shirt can even be worn by couples. Normally you don't want to wear the same t-shirt as your partner, even if you really like it, because you look as though you are twins dressed by your overbearing mother. Now you can each configure your t-shirt exactly the way you want it, so you can wear a t-shirt which is almost the same but not quite....

Has your final T-shirt design turned out the same as you initially imagined it would?
I went through many iterations in the design process, wow, some of them were bad! Then I had a dream about this shape that you see on the t-shirt - I don't know where it came from (and the dream wasn't about the t-shirt) - and finally things started falling in place. Throughout it all I was very pleased to have feedback, criticisms and disgusted looks from my partner Ai Hasegawa and from David Cuesta, one of my favourite designers.

When you were designing your T-1 T-shirt, how did the process compare with your normal work?

Normally I design spatial things. It is always painful for me to design visual things. This time it was no different?

Please give your T-shirt a name.
The Configurable T-shirt.

Please give us a a message to all the people who visit the website, to spark their interest in your T-shirt.
The idea of this t-shirt is that YOU, the wearer, have to complete the design before you wear it. You can draw directly on to the pixel array to create your own designs, patterns and messages....
If you have any music that would best fit your design T-shirt, please let us know.
Anything on vinyl.

Is there any strikingly memorable or impressive T-shirt that you remember?

My favourite t-shirts are designed by the artist Franklin Joyce. Every couple of years he sends his friends and collaborators t-shirts that say "Franklin loves me", and they are always beautifully crafted. He hasn't sent me one in a long time, so maybe I should start sending him nice presents too.

What is your favorite food?

Pefect meal: chocolate to start, appetiser of greek yoghurt and honey, main course a big bunch of grapes, then some gyoza handmade by Ai and finishing off with Belgian chocolate ice cream and a really strong macchiato.

Any countries that you'd like to travel, if you had the chance and time?
Ursula K Leguin's Anarres.

Are there any people, things, happenings, that have especially influenced you?

There is a microchip implanted under my left shoulder, which seems to have a very strong influence on me although Ai thinks I'm just being stubborn.

What do you want most? Anything?
An "undo" button would be very useful.

Is there anything that you recommend us to check out? Any items, events, etc?

One of my favourite films is Fists in the Pocket (1965) and it's now available on DVD.

Who would make you most pleased if they were to wear your T-shirt?

Maybe Totoro. But I'm not sure if it will be available in a big enough size.

If you have any news or information about your recent or upcoming activities, please let us know.

My biggest news is that I just designed a configurable t-shirt. Oh, you knew that already.....